Sat, 05 Feb 2000

Planned dissolution of KPU protested

JAKARTA (JP): Protest mounted on Friday over the planned dissolution of the General Election Commission (KPU), with 15 parties that failed to win seats in House of Representatives in last year's elections calling it "a political conspiracy to create a new status quo".

Edwin Sukowati, chairman of the National Democratic Party (PND), said certain figures in the government and the House had masterminded the move in their own groups' interests.

"Akbar Tandjung and the other House leaders, Ryaas Rasyid and Andi Mallarangeng, have outspokenly made statements on the necessity to reorganize the KPU in a bid to prevent the commission's plan to bring to justice the thousands of violations in last year's elections," Edwin exploded.

Akbar chairs the Golkar Party, which finished second in the polls behind the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, and is the House speaker. Ryaas is the state minister of regional autonomy, and Mallarangeng is his assistant.

Only 19 out of the 48 parties that contested the June 1998 elections are represented in the House.

Edwin said that despite the planned disbanding of the election commission, the minor parties would press the Supreme Court to deal with the poll violations that were mostly committed by Golkar supporters.

Edwin said that instead of making partial amendments to the 1999 Election Law, the House and the government should overhaul the law completely if they wished to lay a platform for a fair and free general election in 2004.

"We do not understand why the House wants to revise only the law's chapter on the election commission, while the law, which is a legacy of the former New Order government, contains numerous substantial weaknesses," he said.

R.O. Tambunan, president of the People's Choice Party (Pilar), said minor parties had no objection to the government's plan to reorganize the KPU, but it should be followed by a total amendment of the law.

"Certain figures in the House and the government should not deceive the people and abuse democracy in their bid to create a new status quo," he said. He added that small parties had strong evidence of certain major parties' involvement in money politics in the last elections.

Ridwan Saidi, chairman of the New Masyumi Party, called on the government and the House to drop the electoral threshold ruling, which bars parties failing to obtain at least two percent of the votes in a general election from contesting the following one, from the law because it was against the 1945 Constitution that guarantees the freedom of association.

"Despite being minority, we have a right to contest the next election," he said.

Also attending the media briefing were the chairmen of the Indonesian Workers Party (PPI), the All Indonesian Workers Party (SPSI) and the National Christian Party (Krisna). (rms)